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The impetus for developing New York State's Legal Services Initiative, as well as the Partnership established to carry out the Initiative's activities, was the numerous anecdotal reports received from across the State regarding gaps and limitations in affordable legal assistance for the State's older adults, people of all ages with disabilities, and the informal caregivers of these two population groups.

As a means of gaining a more comprehensive description of the availability, affordability, and accessibility of legal assistance, a research study comprising seven statewide exploratory surveys was conducted regarding such elements as the extent of residents' use of legal help, barriers to accessing legal help, issues and challenges encountered in daily life that are of most concern to residents, differences in the use and availability of legal assistance in different geographic areas of the State, the current status of the aging network's federally mandated Legal Assistance Program, the current status of the New York State Mental Hygiene Legal Service, training needs of members of the legal and judicial professions, and other information.

The following seven groups were surveyed:

  • New York State residents aged 18 and older;
  • Attorneys practicing in New York State;
  • Directors of the State's Area Agencies on Aging regarding the federally mandated Legal Assistance Program for older adults;
  • Legal services providers contracted by Area Agencies on Aging to provide legal services under the Legal Assistance Program;
  • Residents of all ages with all types of disabilities;
  • Attorneys staffing the New York State Mental Hygiene Legal Service; and
  • Judges and justices in New York State's Unified Court System.

Findings from the seven surveys are assembled into a document entitled, "Report of Findings: Seven Statewide Surveys." View the findings for each of the study's surveys by clicking on each of the Parts listed below:

Part 1 Opening Pages, Table of Contents, and Part 1—Introduction and Key Findings: Seven Surveys
Part 2 Survey Results—New York State Residents Aged 18 and Older
Part 3 Survey Results—Attorneys Practicing in New York State
Part 4 Survey Results—Area Agency on Aging Directors, for the Aging Network's Legal Assistance Program in New York
Part 5 Survey Results—Legal Services Providers, for the Aging Network's Legal Assistance Program in New York
Part 6 Survey Results—Attorneys Staffing the New York State Mental Hygiene Legal Service
Part 7 Survey Results—Judges and Justices in New York State's Unified Court System
Part 8 Survey Results—Residents with Disabilities
Appendix The Research Study's Seven Survey Instruments